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The Urban incubator: Belgrade

http://urbanincubator.org

The Urban Incubator is a Goethe-Institut ‘project of excellence’, supported by the City of Belgrade and the Municipality of Savski Venac. The Urban Incubator: Belgrade involves more than ten local and international projects from the fields of art, architecture, urbanism and social engagement.

The Urban Incubator is a unique cultural project aiming at a critical and participatory re-development of the neglected city quarter of Savamala –international artists, researchers and activists will support and enable residents and local institutions to revitalize their urban environment.

When, in 2010, the Goethe-Institut Belgrade was looking for a temporary relocation, possibly a pavilion or a container village on a derelict space in Savamala, the project “Eurocode 8” was born: according to German earthquake safety regulations, a two to three year ́s evacuation of the Goethe-Institut at Knez Mihailova would offer a unique opportunity to focus the activities of a prestigious and very much appreciated cultural institution in the Belgrade downtown area of Savamala.

But when, in May 2011, yet another Eurocode 8-report permitted the Goethe-Institut to stay, the idea of a “Goethe-Institut on the move”, the option to define a long-term cultural project for the re-generation of Savamala persisted. “This is the right time and place” was the bottom line of discussions about how to conceive a new bottom-up, cultural approach to contribute to the re-generation of a Belgrade city quarter – a “jewel
of a city quarter” at the banks of River Sava very much neglected and cut-off – by railway tracks, congested traffic arteries or more mental borderlines – from public awareness as much as from much hope for potential improvement by investment, development or any other initiative any time soon.

This opened the path to invite local and international projects to come to Belgrade and to be part of a long-term process which would introduce local and international initiatives and approaches how, together with residents and citizens of Belgrade and Savamala, to create a new awareness about the potential of Savamala, to discover the “pride of the place”, its stories and hidden history, and – at the same time – to develop new ideas and visions: about who will and how to shape Savamala, how to create the city of the future.

Key actors

The Urban Incubator is a Goethe-Institut ‘project of excellence’, supported by the City of Belgrade and the Municipality of Savski Venac. The Urban Incubator: Belgrade involves more than ten local and international projects from the fields of art, architecture, urbanism and social engagement, which will be present and operational in Savamala for during 2013. Project authors include raumlaborberlin, the University of Technical Sciences (ETH) Zurich, “Third Belgrade” Artists´ Initiative (Belgrade), the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg, the Zurich University of the Arts, Nexthamburg (Hamburg), GingerEnsemble (CH), Camenzind (Zurich), Maja Popović and Boba Stanić (Belgrade/Amsterdam), Goethe-Guerilla, and many others.

Partners of URBAN INCUBATOR: BELGRADE Project: German Agency for Technical Cooperation GTZ, Federal Ministry of Transport, Construction and Urban development of Federal Republic of Germany, Embassy of Switzerland in Serbia and Pro Helvetia Foundation, the City of Belgrade, municipality of Savski Venac, cultural center “KC Grad”, Dom Omladine Belgrade, ETH Zurich, PERI.

Role of design

How can the future of a city be designed when there are no financial means for investment, when legal issues are unclarified, and when institutional procedures are slow? These questions are central to the Urban Incubator: Belgrade and the future of Savalmala. The Urban Incubator: Belgrade seeks to address them by handing over the future of this city quarter to artists, cultural workers and activists and simultaneously enabling the local residents of Savamala to participate in the process.

Could this approach create alternative options to the established procedures of city planning? Students of the Faculty of Architecture, Belgrade, will investigate these questions. The Urban Incubator: Belgrade will be taken as a model for scrutinizing alternative methods of urban development. They will follow the Urban Incubator: Belgrade projects closely and develop their own ideas in and about Savamala.

CONTACT (of the editor)

Urban Incubator : Belgrade – Organization : Goethe-Institut Belgrade – Email : urbanincubator1@belgrad.goethe.org

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The Belgrade Design Week was the best design conference I have ever enjoyed – the specific spirit of the city in a kind of in between status, the rough tension which can still be felt ten years after the bombs, the pride and the looking for new orientation especially in the young generation – all this is giving the BDW a special flair far away from the current events of the global design circus. In addition the enthusiastic organizational team trying hardly but unsuccessfully to keep the program along the schedules, the informal exchange between the international speakers, the loss of any discipline, the parties on the river … what ever and how ever the interrelations between these aspects are working – it makes the BDW an unique, likeable, inspiring and productive event, I will never forget.

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